Idea - API for gov data

A recent client of mine was using data from census, bls etc website (gov collected data) heavily in their analysis. While working for them, I couldn’t find an unified API and data service where we can get these data (polished, cleaned up, multiple formats etc - the raw data is provided by the gov).

Is there a market for such a service? If yes, how do I get in touch with prospective buyers?

You’re going to be very very hard to do ‘Outbound’ marketing/sales with this - its just not going to be feasible to find users - e.g. there is no “govt data users monthly” magazine you can advertise in.

Instead you need to look into ‘Inbound’ marketing - basically writing content (web pages/eBooks etc) so that potential customers will find you when doing searches.

Off the top of my head you can write content about the different types of govt data available - perhaps one page each explaining what it is, where to get it (raw), problems in data, what fields mean, related data etc - along with plugs of you product. Repeat for each different data source you support and voilla dozens of inbound marketing pages (aka search engine bait!).

If you’re unsure about inbound marketing a good first place to research is Hubspot / Kiss Metrics - their full package may be out of their reach but they have some good guides to get you started.

oh wow, I didn’t know this works! so the idea is people would find this content useful and contact me for the actual work?

Do you have a real life example of this strategy?

Thank you for answering!

“so the idea is people would find this content useful and contact me for the actual work?”

Yes - the hope is some of them do.

Erm - examples? Its used everywhere. Start here

then do some googling around Content Marketing / Inbound Marketing - and you will see this technique used everywhere.

Content marketing does work. It has some downsides though. It takes some time to see any effects (3 to 6 months).

The two questions you posted in the first post are something you have to answer by doing some research. Also, no one will be interested in all available data. So you can focus on a particular aspect like population, income, weather or whatever.

I think you should do research before trying content marketing or any other kind of marketing. What you could do is:

  1. Brainstorm a list of industries that might benefit from a service like this (Palantir and alike, university research groups, business intelligence services, market research services, etc.)
  2. Reach out to decision makers in these companies. Would they be interested in using such service? What’s their buying process? How can you reach them (conferences, magazines, etc.)?
  3. Offer a test service and ask for feedback. What did they like? Would they pay X? What was different than they expected?

This should give you enough information to get started.

oh okay, makes sense. I am not familiar with these steps, will read up on them. My biggest problem is stopping myself from writing code and doing proper research instead :frowning:

Thank you for answering

I’d definitely recommend refraining from writing code. What was useful for my research was Lean Customer Development. It’s a great book that’ll help you conduct research the right way.

Jay - I had a similar experience as you, where I was trying to get data from the census and while it was available, it was in a super frustrating format and hard to find what exactly I was looking for. I took this frustration and came up with a similar solution as you’re proposing, but instead of an API I just repackage the database.

Here’s an example:

I get a few sales a month, but it’s been hard to promote further. I did try Adwords once, and I was making about 75% of my spend.

It’s an idea that has potential…all data created by the government is usually publicly available, hard to get at, and is in public domain (you are allowed to repackage and sell, legally).

I did have a hard time finding other data sources that people would be interested in. Zip codes and demographics have demand, but stuff like FDA stats and DOE aren’t that searched for.


What kind of business are you in? How long did it take you to research?

Very interesting, thank you for sharing. Would you like to talk more, offline?

What kind of people buy the data you sell? I’ve done some reading on the data available, there is tons of datasets online. Not all of them in easy to read format though.

Hey Jay - I’m not really “in the business”, just a developer who had a frustration and thought I could make a couple bucks off something I had already created for myself.

Am happy to discuss more, just sent you a PM.

Today I found something relevant to your interests - It’s not for government data but interesting still.

Hey @jay15, today this appeared in my RSS reader and I immediately thought of you. I’m not sure whether you’re still considering this direction but it might be interesting to you.

[quote=“Rhino, post:2, topic:3820”]
e.g. there is no “govt data users monthly” magazine you can advertise in.
[/quote]Well, yes and no…
I used to be a subscriber to Government Computing News and Federal Computing Weekly, which are pretty close. They have a print edition and online offerings.

They also have these related publications.

Look at the Demand Generation portion of the GCN For Advertisers section for info on what sorts of submissions they accept:


Content Syndication
Post a whitepaper or educational asset in the whitepaper library for lead generation.

Sponsor Webcast
The sponsor proposes the webcast topic, prepares the content and presents in this moderated format.

But that’s going to cost a bit.

Another option… these publications make public their editorial calendar.

Editorial Calendars, for example:
From GCN:
From FCW:

That allows you to coordinate your content marketing endeavors with the upcoming topics they’re covering in their publications.

Using the SkyScraper Technique you can produce epic, relevant posts that are better positioned to get shares and backlinks, aligning with those content calendars.

Then you can get scrappy doing cross-linking on Twitter, linking in their comments, infographics etc that get their attention and help build your list.

Just a start.

Hope this helps!


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Great actionable advice for @jay15 there Ken.

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